(Ed. note: I asked Pablo, whom I knew supported Garballey, for his pitch. Supporters of Friedman and Stewart are most welcome to contribute and I’ll treat similarly. — C)
What does a guy need to do to earn a promotion?
In the Fourth Middlesex special election, that seems to be the prevailing question. We have Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) asking the voters of Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Woburn, and two thirds of Lexington to promote him from the Massachusetts House of Representatives to the State Senate.
Can you blame him?
Sean Garballey has spent the past nine years in the House, pushing the envelope as far as a progressive can without finding his desk dispatched to share space with a basement toilet. Yes, Sean aspires to the progressively friendlier confines of the Senate chamber. Yes, Sean has been the House legislative partner to Senator Jaime Eldridge, where they co-sponsor a wide variety of progressive legislation. Senator Eldridge is very appreciative of having a progressive partner in the House, but he is altruistic enough to endorse Sean’s aspirations to become a colleague in the Senate.
As a public education advocate, Sean has always been on the right side of the issues. He was one of the House members who defied the speaker and voted against the most recent charter school legislation. As a former school committee member, he goes beyond mere understanding of PK-12 and higher ed issues. He has been a point person for a wide variety of important education initiatives, he has been the lead sponsor of several bills requested by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, and he has put forth legislation that has solid support from teachers and school committees alike.
Nine years of fighting for progressive causes? That would normally be enough to have me cheering for Sean, throwing a couple of bucks in his campaign bucket, and telling my (limited circle of) friends to vote for him. I know it sounds like one of those 3:00 a.m. infomercials, but I can’t resist the line:
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!
I have Sean Garballey on speed dial. I have never known a more responsive legislator. If I call his cell phone, he is usually back on the line in two or three minutes. If I butt-dial his number, he calls. If I am thinking of a state issue, or make a post on social media about a state issue, my cell phone rings. Sean is amazing. When you have a problem, you have no better advocate than Sean. Last November, my wife got into an accident at an intersection where the state failed to adequately replace a traffic signal destroyed in a previous accident. I left work when my wife called about the accident, and my first instinct was to hit Sean’s number on my speed dial. He had the MassDOT area director on the phone before I got to the scene of the accident, and a temporary fix to the intersection was in place the next week. I can’t count the number of folks who have similar stories to tell about Sean’s efforts on their behalf. One friend, who doesn’t live in Sean’s current legislative district, called with a problem, and was amazed that Sean just went to work. Most legislative offices would tell the citizen to call the legislator who served his district.
This passion for constituents is the heart and soul of Sean Garballey’s being, which was recognized by the GateHouse newspaper chain when they endorsed him.
However, this publication’s editorial board believes that Garballey will be the best choice for the 4th Middlesex district. In a district this diverse, his stated desire to replicate the kinds of strong personal connections he built with Arlington residents will be an important asset alongside his policy knowledge and the relationships he has built with other legislators.
Mary Ann Stewart is also a good friend; she would be my second choice in this race. She’s a former Lexington school committee member who needed to resign that seat to become the PTA appointee to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. As a board member, she has been one of the only voices of reason after Charlie Baker took over the appointment of board members. Mary Ann is another friend of public education, another local official who is passionate about implementing a progressive agenda.
Cindy Friedman is also running for the seat, claiming Senator Donnelly’s mantle as his “Chief of Staff.” Cindy was also Senator Jim Marzilli’s chief legislative aide before he lost his seat in the midst of a scandal that resulted in his incarceration. No doubt she is an excellent aide, no doubt she was by the Senator’s side, but she clearly lacks the legislative record earned by standing on the floor and casting difficult votes. She also changed her voter registration from Cambridge (Second Middlesex district) to Arlington (Fourth Middlesex district) when she pulled papers to run for the senate seat. One of her biggest supporters, Representative Jay Kaufman (Third Middlesex district) is one of her campaign co-chairs.
Is the Fourth Middlesex district so bereft of progressive leadership that we need a state representative from outside the district to lead a campaign to import a senate staffer from outside the district to run for the seat?
Of course not.
Sean Garballey deserves the promotion. Mary Ann Stewart is a solid progressive who has lived in the district for several years. They make great first and second choices in this race.